A light in the distance flickering continually illuminated the alleyway. Cautious steps echoed through the emptiness. Two silhouettes collided, their slender forms connecting perfectly at the neck. One stepped back following the swift linking, and gripped the other shadow keeper's shoulders.
"Do they know about any of it yet?" his voice had a calm smoothness to it, even though in this particular moment it was edged with apprehension. The remaining figure didn't look up right away, causing her companion to look around suspiciously.
"Well?? Do they?" his eyes searched hers desperately.
"No," she looked up at him finally, squinting nervously under his gaze. "At least they don't know everything."
"Everything? Meaning....that they do know something but....it's not important enough to-"
"Meaning....that the only thing they know is that we've come in contact with each other once or twice by chance, but they can't prove anything and it's not like either of us are on their priority lists."
He closed his eyes wearily. "Let me get this straight: they know we've met and more than once and you don't consider that....to be....risky for... either of us?" he gingerly caressed his forehead and sighed. "You really like to live on the edge, don't you?"
She bit her lip, "Well actually no. That's not my favorite way to play the game. But it seems to always end up that way anyway." For a moment, he grinned at her, but quickly caught himself.
"You need to be more careful." He muttered dryly. She nodded, though a little put off by his condescending tone. "If they ever found out, we would be sent away to a place neither of us wants to go."
"And we would never see each other ever again."
"I know that too."
"And you need to stop being such a smart Alec."
"I--wait...um ok. Riiiight." She smiled slightly. "I'll make a mental note," she winked at him.
"You do that," he advised unamused. Then he started to leave the alleyway in quick strides, murmuring, "If you get into any trouble, you know where to find me," then he added with a smirk, "Although, I would prefer that you didn't get into trouble at all."
She gave him a scathing look and faked a laugh. "Copy that, commander." Her companion began to walk a little faster, chuckling as he went. She stayed where she was, going over every rehearsed excuse she had ever used, trying to find a match for this particular situation. It was no use. She would just have to go back as quickly and quietly as she could so that she wouldn't have to offer an explanation at all. She looked at her shadow on the brick wall, contemplating a quicker shape. The dark began to mold her, twisting her limbs, widening her eyes, distorting her former profile. Soon, she had the beady yellow eyes and the jet black fur of a cat, kneading her claws into the wall. Without any further hesitation, she ran screeching down the alleyway, perking the ears of her recent companion. She continued to quicken her pace, jumping over garbage cans and onto rooftops, until she made it to the right window. Light was seeping out of the glass, playing dangerously with her silhouette. Any amount of time spent in the light while within the realm of shadow manipulation, should be kept minimal. She knew it and switched forms again tapping her human fingers against the glass to let herself in.
Once she was inside, she rifled through her simple wooden wardrobe, finally resting her gaze on a faded pair of grey overalls, her work uniform. Snagging the outfit, she left the open space of her quarters and changed in the only washroom on the floor of the tenement. She sighed discontentedly as she examined herself in the broken mirror. The grey overalls didn't do anything to lessen her ghostly composure and the lack of color was even more amplified by the bags under her eyes. The work she did in the factory was dirty and tedious, collecting the salvageable scrap metal taken from crash sites. Her hands were partially calloused by the rust and the grease she was constantly in contact with. Her hair was jet black, but at that moment it appeared ashy, lifeless. Sighing once again, she left the washroom and climbed out the window. It was a long walk to the Industrial Unit and the star Evura was just barely peeking over the cityscape. She would have to stay in her slower form and she wished that someone would rupture her solitude, even if only for a moment. She knew Adge would, if he could, but it was much too dangerous.
Adge reclined on his hammock, completely motionless. He was always uneasy about the secrets he was keeping, overly paranoid. But this time, there was another like him that he could relate with: Emery. She knew what it was like to manipulate shadow, to step inside a world hidden from the eyes of the light-walkers. She also knew what it was like to worry for her life, that if anyone ever discovered her ability, they would brand her with a new identity and send her to the Cavity. He knew she already had a strenuous job at the Unit, and the last thing she needed was to mine the Cavity. He remembered watching his older brother being taken to the mines when he turned 16. Adge had only been 10 at the time. He remembered Shale coming home to the shelter with dirty red stains covering his jeans and a scent like smoke but thicker and stronger. A scent that invaded every inch of his throat down to his stomach. He pushed the memory away before his mind could recreate the odor, bringing his thoughts back to Emery. She had told him that she had a plan. A plan to escape. His stomach churned with excitement at the thought of leaving this place. Of leaving it forever. He wondered if anyone ever had done such a thing. And if there was someone, locked away in the forbidden archives, what had become of them? Maybe Emery knew…
By now she could see the bright lavender glow illuminating the entire city, the metallic structures reflecting its light like one giant jagged mirror. Light-walkers were trickling slowly into the surrounding streets, attracted to the daylight as much as she was attracted to its absence. They were enthusiastic workers; a lot more enthusiastic than she was. Maybe because they were more awake; because they slept at night. Emery couldn’t remember the last time she had slept. Ever since she’d discovered her ability, night had become her escape; a glimpse of the freedom she never had been able to call her own. Even if she still returned to that dusty old residence and that worn wardrobe and the ignorant holding manager every morning. She would wait patiently for the darkness to creep along the horizon and then the buildings, until it found its way to her window. Then she would run or fly or swim; she would be free. Reluctantly, Emery stopped in front of a silver building, wishing with all her heart that it wouldn’t be there when she tried to walk through the doorway. But she walked between its metallic walls, trying to block out the sharp noises that seemed to fill the entire building. The sound of drills and drivers, of metal on metal and the clanging of the growing pile of scrap. It seemed that the Industrial Unit also never slept. Sometimes, evening hours were its busiest.
The conveyer belt whizzed by effortlessly, carrying the old junk metal salvage. That was how it got to the workers in order to be made into “good” scrap. The black platform stretched across the main room and connected to a series of white plastic benches. Emery sat at one of them, putting on her ragged pair of gloves and immediately set to work on the wreckage parade that had just entered her domain. She worked quietly and briskly, daydreaming about things from discovering a passageway behind the broken mirror in the resident washroom, to finding darkness and transforming into a black wolf. Then, for a split second, she let her thoughts drift to Adge. Really the only thing she knew about him was that he was a darkmolder. Like her. But she needed to know more. In order to reveal her plan to him completely. But her instincts pleaded with her to trust him. It was probably the first time that her instincts and her heart fought on the same side. Emery fought back, too. She was not a trusting individual by any means. Yet Adge drew her in. Steadily; effectively. And she knew that, in the end, it was her heart that would win.